What makes you take action?

Motivation. Your “motive” to take “action”.

What motivates people? Why do we feel motivated? How do we keep our motivation going?

These and many other questions have been the subject of research for decades. There are thousands of articles about motivation techniques (26,000 in Google Scholar since 2020 alone), numerous theories and methods (Hierarchy of Needs, ERG Theory, Two Factor Theory…) and who knows how many other resources like books and podcasts.

This is such an interesting and complex topic. Today I want to share with you my insights from the research I have done on the virtual footprint of motivation (or lack of it) from 4.54 billion Internet users.

I searched for similar words to motivation and realised they can be grouped in 4 topics:

  1. goals (ambition, initiative, determination, enterprise),
  2. values (reason, drive, rationale),
  3. emotions (stimulus, enthusiasm, inspiration) and
  4. action (impulse, provocation, get-up-and-go)

I then looked at Google Trends. In the past year, the time of fewer online searches for “motivation” was Christmas as well as the International Day of Happiness (March 20th). Easter also appears to be a time of fewer Google searches for this key word.

This can be due to many different reasons. One can say that during these periods of celebration we feel happier, we feel more love in our lives and we are more connected to those around us. We are focused on our goals and values, have more positive emotions and act to make others feel loved and appreciated, what in turn makes us feel good too. This is a pretty good recipe for motivation.

The countries that appeared at the top of the list in Google Trends are mainly African countries, being Madagascar at the top of the leaderboard. When we compare with the results of the World Happiness Report 2020, Madagascar is number 137 in a long list of 153 countries worldwide.

If we look a bit deeper into the internet data, we see that those who search for “motivation” also search for Steve Harvey (famous comedian) or for Kobe Bryant (incredibly talented basketball player). These are 2 individuals that inspire motivation in others through joy, love and passion, very powerful emotions.

Do you start to see the pattern?

Our emotions play an important role in motivation. When we are unhappy, when we have a sense of uncertainty or feel disconnected from our values, it feels like we’ve got no energy to keep going and fail to take action. On the other hand, it is easier for us to take action if what we do brings joy to our lives (even a little bit).

I’d like to ask you a couple of questions today. Find 10 minutes without distractions to think about the answers (it’s more effective if you write down your thoughts).

  • What things in your life bring you joy? What do you like doing? How do these things make you feel?
  • Now think about a goal you are working towards.
  • When you first decided to do [your goal], what were the reasons for wanting to achieve it? How does it feel to achieve your goal?
  • How will you reward yourself for your progress (no matter how small)?
  • What habits do you need to create and what should you stop doing?
  • What small steps can you take now to get closer to your goal?

What makes you happy? Share your comments below!

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